After an intense eight days of physical and emotional challenges, four Civil Air Patrol cadets from the Seward Composite Squadron graduated from the 2012 Arctic Challenge. The encampment, held at Fort Richardson, was very similar to a military boot camp. Cadets were awakened at 5:00am to the sounds of whistles and screaming flight commanders, and they endured challenging physical training exercises every morning. They participated in military drilling, ate at the base dining hall, and ensured that their beds and lockers were in pristine condition for any unexpected inspections. Cadets even pushed through an extremely demanding obstacle course that the military uses in training; once with their flight’s own flag, and twice with a 200 pound log.
Cadet Airman First Class Ryan Maxwell said, “You learn extremely rapidly to work as a team, in every task, from making beds, to organizing lockers, to shining boots, and definitely for carrying those logs! The first day, I wanted to be more independent, but I learned that it is WAY easier and more time efficient to work as a single unit, instead of as a group of individuals.”
However, the encampment wasn’t all hard work and stress. The cadets did enjoy several outstanding demonstrations and other special activities. Some of these included meeting an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team and admiring the devices or robots they use to disarm roadside bombs. They had the opportunity to observe a Canine Search Team in action, and enjoyed attending the Alaska Airshow. They made new friends and met other cadets from around Alaska and the lower 48.
Even though the encampment was difficult, graduating was a proud moment for the youth and their parents. Rachel Banse was especially proud of her son, Isaac Osborn, who distinguished himself throughout the week and was awarded Honor Cadet for Echo Flight.
Cadet Airmen First Class Alden Hamilton, Ryan Maxwell, Isaac Osborn and Nicolas Woodard worked hard this year to earn the privilege of attending this unique experience. They had to pass physical fitness tests, military drill tests, as well as self-study to pass online Leadership and Aerospace Education exams. “The CAP cadet program is meant to be challenging,” says Stephanie Presley, Deputy Commander of Cadets. “We provide opportunities for youth to develop self-discipline, leadership skills and the character needed to help them be successful in whatever they choose to do. Whether they are interested in the military, becoming a pilot, or entering into a career in emergency services or aviation, youth will take away what they are willing to put into the program. I’m very proud of what the Seward cadets have been able to accomplish this year and I’m excited to see what these young people will accomplish in the future.”
Graduation from the encampment is a requirement for cadets wanting to participate in other Civil Air Patrol sponsored activities. With generous support from community members and organizations, the Seward Squadron was able to provide scholarships for the encampment and for two cadets to attend the 2012 Glider Academy. Cadets Osborn and Maxwell attended the ten day academy earlier this summer at Clear Air Force Station. At this academy, primary cadets, with their instructor, pilot thirty or more glider flights; enough to earn a glider’s rating. Other activities which require completion of the encampment include a powered flight academy, allowing youth to fly at least one-third of the hours needed to earn their pilot’s license, the physically demanding Pararescue Orientation and Hawk Mountain Search and Rescue Courses, and the International Air Cadet Exchange, in which cadets travel to different places around the world to broaden their understanding of aviation and foreign cultures.
Seward CAP will hold an open house for prospective cadets, age 12-18, and parents on September 10th at 6pm, followed by a BBQ at 6:30, free for all community members. The recently completed operations center, the silver hanger on Airport Road, will be open for tours. For more information, visit gocivilairpatrol.com or call Commander Brandon Anderson at 491-0385, or Deputy Commander of Cadets, Stephanie Presley at 980-8386.